Thursday, June 16, 2011

Join the ongoing discussion at Fractured Politics


If you're longing for more ITM, and especially for more Eileen (whose comments are always so explosively cool), go to Kris Coffield's Fractured Politics. There's much great discussion after Jeffrey's interview (with a comment by Eileen, here) and after my interview too.

There, Coffield writes:
In a sense, that's what Karl Steel is attempting to produce - de-essentialized subjectivities that deploy interspecies relations in the imagining of alternative political and aesthetic sensibilities. Stepping outside of one's own skin is a difficult task, however, when it involves not only a discursive injunction, but a voluntary dehumanization. To get to the materialism of 'the human', where transformative political work can begin, we must first realize that in articulating (or interrogating) claims from an anthropocentric perspective, we perform 'humanity' itself, the normative historicity (Butler's "chains of iteration") that grant discourse the power to enact what it names. 'Human' is more than just a species indicator, it is also a fundamental identity marker, a promise to universality and solidarity that catalyzes political action. How else could governments speak of "species emergencies" and be narratively recognized? Critiques of any identity, then, including 'human', reveal the failure of identity formation to fulfill that promise.

A paradigm shift may be helpful in unraveling the failed promise of 'the human' and the political functions it has birthed - human nature, human rights, human beingness. For example, instead of asking how diseased animals were dealt with historically, we might ask how 'life' was constituted such that certain animals appeared as 'sick' or certain conditions were labeled 'illness'. Instead of asking how animals are imbricated within putatively human technospheres, we might ask how technospheres penetrate animal spaces.

I don't think Julian Reid would necessarily object to such lines of flight, as they deliberately subvert the martial ordering of biopolitics under liberal regimes by prompting a self-conscious shedding of logistical accounts of life. Logisiticization inheres homogenization of life, and life's capacity for proliferation, along the informational lines Reid elegantly elucidated; what counts as life is that which can be disciplined to respond to the permanent crisis always immanent to the (il)liberal life. Absolutely, animal lives are also disciplined within neoliberal regimes, but control of animal populations is not the objective of these regimes, so long as the animal/human binary is maintained - is it any wonder that lifeforms resistant to liberal accounts are described in terms typically reserved for animals and, indeed, are treated in the same manner as animals, a la Guantanamo Bay (the human zoo)? After all, animals signify the nonnarratizable, instinctual, traumatic.

Blurring these boundaries highlights a suppressed materiality that challenges informationalized biopower, along with its genealogical heritage. To that end, medieval deterritorializations of animal identity might be extremely helpful.
For this, I can only say thanks! Although if you want more of me, see here and following for a GIANT (Eileen worthy?) set of responses.

(picture of me at Sean Landers 'Around the World Alone' at Friedrich Petzel gallary)

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